Playa del Rey condo owners are suing the city to restore traffic lanes

By Gary Walker

A Playa del Rey homeowners association has filed a lawsuit against Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and L.A. City Councilman Mike Bonin to reverse the reduction of traffic lanes on local streets.

The Breakers at Westport Condominium Homeowners Association claims in the suit that Bonin implemented his Safe Streets for Playa del Rey initiative in
May without public hearings or an environmental analysis.

The controversial road diet reduced Vista Del Mar to one lane in each direction and relocated parking to the beach side of the road in the wake of several pedestrian traffic deaths in recent years. Bonin also reduced Pershing Drive as
well as portions of Culver and Jefferson boulevards to one traffic lane in each direction and added new bicycle lanes.

The 17-page complaint, filed on July 12 in Los Angeles Superior Court, is the latest salvo in an escalating feud that pits Bonin and those who support the traffic calming measures against angry residents commuters who say the new road configurations have amplified traffic congestion, extended commute times and made the streets less safe overall.

At the heart of the lawsuit is the claim that traffic congestion on Vista Del Mar is making it difficult for residents to access and leave their homes.

“The Breakers, located at 7301 Vista Del Mar, and its members have been adversely impacted by the unlawful implementation of the project. The only access to the development is from Vista Del Mar, which has now become time-consuming and onerous due to
the severe traffic congestion at all hours of the day, particularly during business commute hours,” the lawsuit states.

Bonin, whose office declined to comment on the lawsuit, has repeatedly described the reconfiguration as a pilot project subject to further evaluation and adjustments. Last week Bonin ordered city workers to restore one eastbound traffic lane on Culver between Jefferson and Nicholson Street, crediting the idea to constructive criticism from residents.

Ernest Franceschi, the attorney representing the condominium association, says the complaint calls on the city to put things back how they were before engaging in hearings and analysis, instead of making adjustments after implementation.

“We’re asking the court to restore the streets back to their original condition and for the city to then go through the process that they should have the first time,” Franceschi said.

“Our position is that this is completely unnecessary. It’s completely unjustified. The outrage has been almost universal,” he added.

Frank Mateljan, a spokesman for City Attorney Mike Feuer, declined to comment on the lawsuit.

Franceschi referenced a January 2014 ruling by the state’s Second District Court of Appeal that granted legal standing to a homeowners association in a dispute with a developer over contractual parking rights.

The lawsuit claims the traffic lane reductions implemented by Garcetti and Bonin were “arbitrary and capricious” and implemented “without first analyzing the project’s environmental impacts and the possible way to reduce those effects and has, since its implementation, created traffic congestion of epic proportions throughout Playa del Rey to the general detriment of the residents.”